The California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the San Clemente-based creators of the iconic got milk? campaign, is celebrating June Dairy Month by partnering with leading health expert and best-selling author Dr. Nina Shapiro in an effort to dispel milk myths in today’s misinformation era and help California consumers better understand the benefits of one of the original, farm-to-table super foods—real, wholesome dairy milk.
“This June, we want Californians to be armed with the right knowledge in order to make informed decisions about their health,” said Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. “And that includes real wholesome dairy milk, the original farm-to-table food that comes from California cows.”
According to CMPB, “The ongoing quest for a healthful lifestyle has many consumers chasing the latest trends found on social media, as well as overspending on costly processed beverages that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. Much of what’s driving consumers choices today in the supermarket aisles is a growing fear factor driven by click-bait headlines instead of real nutritional facts. Take, for instance real wholesome dairy milk. All-natural dairy milk offers a range of healthful benefits, including nine essential nutrients including high-quality protein to help build and maintain lean muscle, B vitamins for energy, vitamin A for a healthy immune system, potassium to regulate the balance of fluids in the body and bone building nutrients including calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. Moreover, milk offers affordable great tasting natural hydration, never with any added sugar, hormones or antibiotics, and helps promotes a good night’s sleep.”
Shapiro, a Harvard- and Cornell-educated physician and mom, is the author of “Hype, a Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice—How to Tell What’s Real and What’s Not,” strives to guide her patients and their families to make informed decisions about their health.
According to Shapiro, the many myths today that are upheld by popular public wisdom and perpetuated by today’s culture of pseudo-news are doing more harm than good.
“It’s very important in today’s internet-driven, informational culture that consumers learn to separate fact from fiction when it comes to understanding the benefits that come from dairy milk vs. plant-based alternative, processed varieties,” she said. “What’s needed is evidence-based common sense and a bit of expert guidance in order for consumers to become more empowered and more well-informed.”
Dr. Shapiro’s top six milk myths:
Myth: Drinking milk leads to respiratory infections, including colds, coughs and ear infections.
Fact: No existing evidence supports this. The only time this may be even remotely related is if an infant or child were to drink a bottle of milk in the crib, in the middle of the night. But this would be the case for any food or drink being eaten, except for water.
Myth: Consuming milk or dairy products slows healing after tonsillectomy or during sore throats.
Fact: This is absolutely not true. One of the fun side benefits of kids getting their tonsils removed is that they get to eat ice cream and drink milk smoothies during recovery. In fact, the more kids consume, especially liquids containing protein and vitamins, the faster they’ll heal.
Myth: Milk causes weight gain and can cause cancer.
Fact: Not true. Much of the rise of obesity is partly due to increased processed foods/fast foods/fried foods/convenience foods, and decreased exercise and activity, even beginning in childhood. Drinking milk is filling and has no direct correlation with weight gain (1,3). As far as cancers go, no diet study can show direct cause, only correlation. There is no consistent data from any study showing that dairy increases risks of any type of cancer.
Myth: Dairy is bad for your heart.
Fact: Actually, the opposite is true. The PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) study, recently published in The Lancet, looked at nearly 150,000 adults from 21 countries and five continents with respect to dairy intake and heart disease over a nine-year period (2). They found that subjects who consumed greater than two servings per day of dairy products versus those who consumed no dairy products had lower risk of heart-related disease, as well as a lower risk of death overall. In particular, milk, of all dairy products resulted in the lowest risks in this study. Interestingly, subjects who consumed whole-fat milk were the healthiest.
Myth: Diabetics should avoid dairy products.
Fact: A recent large meta-analysis study, looking at up to 500,000 adults ranging from ages 20 to 88 years, found that higher amounts of dairy consumption correlated to lower incidence of type 2 diabetes (4). This was most notable for total dairy product consumption, low-fat dairy consumption, and yogurt. Overall, the higher amount of dairy product consumed correlated to lower and lower risks of type 2 diabetes.
Myth: I have lactose intolerance, so it must be a milk allergy.
Fact: Lactase is an enzyme that helps break down one of the sugars in milk (lactose) during digestion. Some people have lower amounts of this; often drinking a little less is the answer. There are also lactose-free milk products, or tablets to ingest which contain lactase, making milk digestion easier. But this is NOT an allergy. True milk allergies, with vomiting, rashes, and even anaphylaxis, affect less than one percent of the adult population (5).
1: Food Nutr Res. 2016 Nov 22;60:32527. doi: 10.3402/fnrv60.32527. eCollection 2016, Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence.
2. Lancet. 2018 Nov 24;392(10161):2288-2297. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31812-9. Epub 2018 Sep 11. Association of dairy intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 21 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study.
3. Adv Nutr. 2019 May 1;10(suppl_2):S67-S73. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz020. Introduction and Executive Summary of the Supplement, Role of Milk and Dairy Products in Health and Prevention of Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases: A Series of Systematic Reviews.
4. Adv Nutr. 2019 May 1;10(suppl_2):S154-S163. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy107, Effects of Milk and Dairy Product Consumption on Type 2 Diabetes: Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.
5. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2017. Prevalence of food allergies and intolerance documented in electronic health records.